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CHENNAI: One signature — that of Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit — is now standing between the seven life convicts of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, and their freedom.
It is now the governor who shall sign their premature release warrant. The central government’s affidavit in Madras HC, in response to a habeas corpus petition filed by India’s longest serving woman prisoner, Nalini Sriharan, on Friday said it is the governor who shall take an appropriate decision on the matter. It even said the fate of convict A G Perarivalan’s mercy petition, pending before Purohit, too hinged on the governor’s “discretion”.
There are only three routes to clemency — by the President under Article 72 of the Constitution, by the governor under Article 161, and by the state government under Section 435 of CrPC.
The President has already rejected clemency multiple times and Tamil Nadu government’s bid to invoke 435 CrPC bombed after the Centre moved SC and got an order stating that “consultation” in respect of a case probed by central agencies would mean “concurrence”.
The Centre has rejected Tamil Nadu government’s early release proposal. It left only Article 161 available to the governor. Bitten once, the Tamil Nadu government adopted the Article 161 route on September 9, 2018 and recommended to the governor, who is sitting on it for more than 18 months.

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